Wednesday, January 28, 2009

CG-Source.com - high quality textures and maxscripts


Thomas Suurland, better known as the guy who renderers ├╝ber photo realistic cars ( http://www.suurland.com/), has launched a new site called cg-source.com. If you look at his car renderings at http://www.suurland.com/, you can see that he definitely knows what he is doing when it comes to 3D and V-Ray.
His new site sells high-res textures and he also has some great, free maxscripts.
This image shows the process on how to use the FloorGenerator, MultiTexture Map, and a MultiTexture of floorboards to create a dynamic floor that can be any size, it will never tile and it can still be seen up close:


An rendered example of the products in use:

Monday, January 26, 2009

Autodesk share price...a rant



I recently read an interesting article about Autodesk's plummeting share price at cgenie.com. The original article is here: (http://www.cgenie.com/articles/95-autodesk-wheres-the-money-going.html)
The article points out some interesting things:
  • in the 2007/8 fiscal year, Autodesk reaped $599 million in sales, yet a year on they have estimated a drop of $99-124 million.
  • Autodesk have laid off 10% of their staff
  • they have a plummeting share price
  • they have lost their CEO to Yahoo
So, essentially, things are not looking good for Autodesk. Somehow, though, I am not surprised. I'm fed up with Autodesk. I am tired of updates that are not worthwhile. The Autodesk Hype Machine promises the world, but rarely delivers on the promise. What's more, the support isn't great either. The thing that really fucked me off though was the early release of Max 2009, in February of 2008.
The company I work for had just bought Max 2008, (It was after all, still the beginning of the year 2008), and understandably they (management) did not want spend even more money to upgrade to Max 2009. I don't blame them.
While doing routine arch-viz work with Max 2008 the software would frequently crash. I am used to Max crashing, I've come to accept it, as have all my 3d artist friends, albeit it somewhat reluctantly and grudgingly. Every time Max crashes it asks you if you would like to send in a CER (Customer Error Report). This is basically a synopsis of what you were doing when Max crashed, and If Autodesk knows what caused the problem, they will email a solution back back to you, for instance: where to download a patch, or what workaround to use.

My 3ds Max 2008 crashed several times on June 3 2008, I sent off the CER, and this is the response that I got back from Autodesk:

Notice that it says: "Technical Solution: A fix for this solution can be found in the latest release"
I interpret this message as saying: "Your software (Max 2008) is out of date and we are not supporting or developing it any longer, even though it is only June 2008. There are bugs and problems with Max 2008, if you don't want your software to crash, you have to upgrade to the latest version, Max 2009. Oh and you will have to pay for this upgrade too, sucker."

So never mind the thousands of Rands/Dollars, we spent on Max 2008, If we want working software we must pay even more and get Max 2009. WTF? How do we know that Max 2009 works properly and that the whole silly cycle wont be repeated, with Max 2010 being released in February 2009?

With support solutions and a "forklift upgrade" attitude /policy like this, why am I not suprised that Autodesk's share prices are falling? Yes, I know the global economic cricis is partly to blame for that, but in todays economy the end user wants value for money, not to mention fully-functioning software. We don't wan't senseless upgrades, with features we don't really need, or worse still, features that don't even work properly.

What have I learnt from this? In the immediate short-term future I will still use 3ds Max, but I am sure as hell looking at cheaper and even free alternatives. Now that V-Ray for Blender is under development, perhaps it's time to move on to something that offers real value, such as Blender with V-Ray or Sketchup with V-Ray. Am I wrong?




Wednesday, January 21, 2009

How to create a mirror with 3ds max and V-Ray

Creating a mirror with 3ds Max and V-Ray

In this tutorial we will create a simple, framed mirror with 3ds Max. We will then create the V-Ray materials for this mirror, and finally we will render out a simple 3d scene, showing reflections in the mirror.

I am assuming that you have a basic knowledge of 3ds Max, so I won't explain absolutely everything, but it should still be easy enough for beginners to figure out what is going on in this tutorial.

Step 1
Creating the mirror surface. Create a box in the front viewport that is approximately 70cm x 40cm x 0.4cm (Note, it doesn't have to be exactly this size and if you would prefer to work in inches or other units, that's also okay, I'm just used to working in cm.)


Step 2
Create the actual V-Ray mirror material. Open up the material editor and change the first material in the material editor to a VrayMtl.



Rename this material "mirror surface" and make it totally reflective, by making the reflect color swatch totally white as in the screenshot below: (White is totally reflective, black is not reflective at all, so the lighter the color, the more reflective it is)


Notice that the preview ball in the material editor "disappears" - (it doesn't actually disappear, it just looks like that because it is reflecting the grey background surrounding the ball). Let's change the background in the material editor to something more visible - a checker background, so we can actually see the material preview reflecting something.


Step 3
Assign the "mirror surface" material to the mirror object (Drag and drop)

Step 4
Add a camera to the scene so it is positioned more or less like mine in screenshot below:


Because the diffuse color of the mirror surface material is grey, it is very difficult to see it against the 3ds Max viewport background, so I change the camera view to "Smooth + Highlights" with "edged faces", by pushing F4 on the keyboard


Step 5
Lets add a VRayLight. It should be a plane light, 80cm x 80 cm big, and set the light's multiplier to 5



Now angle the light so that it is facing down and towards the mirror surface as in my screenshot below:


Step 6
Create a ground plane for our scene. For this I will create a VRayPlane. (this is an infinite plane, represented by an icon in the viewport)

Move the VRayPlane so that it is below the mirror.


Step 7
Let's create some random objects for the mirror to reflect - I just created some teapots, but obviously you can use anything. Position the teapots so that they are in front of the mirror and resting on the VrayPlane, as in the screenshot below:


Step 8
Now we'll set up the GI(Global Illumination) and do a test render. Press F10 on the keyboard, turn VRay::Indirect illumination (GI) on. I've also turned on "Show calc. phase", because it's always fun to see what the computer is doing.

Press Render


Hopefully your scene looks something like mine, you might have to rearrange your teapots/objects so that they are reflected by the mirror. Notice the VRayLight is reflected in the mirror. Move the VrayLight up so that it is no longer reflected by the mirror

Step 9
Creating a frame for the mirror. Make a rectangular spline the same size as the mirror. Rename this rectangle "Frame":


Now create a decorative profile for the frame and add a "Bevel profile" modifier to the frame:


Adjust and position the frame so that it fits the mirror:


Step 10:
Create a gold colored VRay material for the frame. Make it in exactly the same way you made the "mirror surface" material, but change the reflection color to a goldish color.


Make the gold materials' reflections more blurry by changing the reflection glossiness value. A value of 1.0 means perfect mirror-like reflection; lower values produce blurry or glossy reflections. Use the Subdivs parameter below to control the quality of glossy reflections:


Step 11
Assign the gold material to the frame, and Render the scene again.


That's it, you're done! Congratulations on finishing this tutorial, and as always, feel free to experiment by putting different backgrounds into the scene, playing with settings and so forth. Experimenting is often one of the best ways to learn - have fun!

JG3D has moved and is now at http://www.jg3d.net/

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

V-Ray render of the year......so far.......


This is one of the most impressive renders I've seen for a long time. It's done by a guy called Peter Guthrie (link) Apparently there are 20 000 clumps of grass and 1000 flowers in the scene! Uses VrayProxy and some sort of scattering...The good news is that he is going to make a tutorial on this (link)

Puppetshop for free



You can now get Puppetshop for free here
Puppetshop is a rigging and animating plugin for 3ds Max. You can use it for all kinds of characters with any amount of limbs: humans(bipeds), horses(quadrupeds) , spiders, etc.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Free Beer


you can get free 3d beer and other booze at http://www.digitalxmodels.com/

Friday, January 16, 2009

STOP



3D stop signs, rendered with V-Ray. Part of a campaign/appeal for everyone involved in Gaza to stop their shit. My wish for the region is that Israel, America and Palestine, stop the violence and think of a new way to resolve the situation. Of, course, I am idealistic to believe that that could ever happen, but then again, if it happened in South Africa, perhaps in can happen in the Middle East. You can get the 3ds max scene here if you like.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

V-Ray Gallery

The V-Ray gallery is now open on the Chaosgroup website here

Many unbelievably beautiful 3D renderings...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Rendering moving objects with V-Ray

Welcome to this tutorial on rendering moving objects with V-Ray. To complete this tutorial you will need 3DS Max with V-Ray 1.5 SP2 or newer, and a little patience!

When rendering animations with V-Ray, there are two basic approaches:
1. Rendering an animation where something is moving, like a car, a character running, or as in my tutorial, the pages of a booking flipping.
2. Rendering an animation where only the camera is moving, like an architectural fly-through. (for a tutorial on this go here: http://www.spot3d.com/vray/help/150SP1/tutorials_imap2.htm)

We are animating something moving (book pages) in this tutorial. If you have ever had to animate the pages of a book turning, you will know that it's a real pain in the arse. Luckily I found this cool maxscript that does it for you , (Bookrigger V2.21 from http://www.ardakutlu.com/scripts.html). Many thanks to Arda for the use of his script! Check out his other scripts, and if you find them useful, give him the respect and thanks he deserves! P.S. You don't need to install this particular maxscript to do the tutorial, but I've included it anyway in case you want to play with it.

Step 1


To follow this tutorial it is advised that you use download the file
how_to_render_moving_objects_with_v-ray_tutorial.rar and unpack the contents of this file to your computer. You can get the file here: http://rapidshare.com/files/182051266/how_to_render_moving_objects_with_v-ray_tutorial.rar
OR
here: http://www.turbosquid.com/FullPreview/Index.cfm/ID/437621

(You don't have to do this - If you already have an animated scene that you want to render, you can just read along and apply the same settings to your own scene - it's up to you )
If you downloaded and unpacked the above-mentioned rar file you should now have a folder called
how_to_render_moving_objects_with_v-ray_tutorial on your computer.
Good - now go the folder called max models, and open the file called
animated_book_start.max

Step 2

Now because I like to use the Linear Work Flow(LWF), we'll set that up quickly. I'm not going to explain LWF too much, we are just going to do it.

Change 3DS Max's Gamma settings to 2.2 (You can change the Gamma settings in 3DS Max here: Toolbar>Customize>Preferences)




Change the color mapping in your V-Ray settings (Toolbar>Rendering>Render>V-Ray>V-Ray::Color Mapping)











Disable the standard 3DS Max virtual frame buffer (VFB) (Toolbar>Rendering>Render>uncheck the "Rendered Frame Window" check box.











Enable the V-Ray frame buffer (VFB) (Toolbar>Rendering>Render>V-Ray>V-Ray Frame buffer>check the "enable V-Ray Frame Buffer" check box. (I recommend using the V-Ray frame buffer all the time anyway, as it gives you more options for adjusting your renders - exposure, color correction, etc.)



Ok cool, now the LWF is setup, let's move on to the next step.

Step 3

Change the V-Ray Image sampler to Adaptive DMC (Toolbar>Rendering>Render>V-Ray>V-Ray::Image Sampler(Antialiasing>Adaptive DMC in the dropdown). We do this because it's faster than Adaptive subdivision. We'll also leave the min and max subdivs at their defaults of 1 and 4.



Step 4


Turn Indirect Illumination (GI) on. (Toolbar>Rendering>Render>Indirect illumination>V-Ray::Indirect illumination (GI)>Turn checkbox on)



Step 5


Change the Irradiance map preset to Medium - animation (Toolbar>Rendering>Render>Indirect illumination>V-Ray::Irradiance map >Built-in presets>Medium - animation)



Step 6


Change the Irradiance map mode to Animation (prepass) (Toolbar>Rendering>Render>Indirect illumination> V-Ray::Irradiance map >Mode> Animation (prepass))
The computer will prompt you to save the file - save it in the folder called maps (how_to_render_moving_objects_with_v-ray_tutorial/maps), and name the file book_irradiance_map.vrmap. Note that this will be a sequence of irradiance map files - one for each frame of the animation.



Step 7


Note too that we leave the secondary GI engine on it' s default (Brute force)



Step 8


Let's increase the V-Ray DMC Sampler settings for better quality (Toolbar>Rendering>Render>Settings> V-Ray::DMC Sampler >Min Samples=16 and Global Subdivs multiplier =2.0



Step 9


Ok - Now click Render. The calculating of the Irradiance maps might take a while, so now id a good time to take a break - go get some coffee, eat some food, go to the toilet, go outside.... GET AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER, TOO MUCH COMPUTER = BAD!

Step 10

Welcome back, were nearly done...we are now going to render out the final animation.
Choose a file format and name for your animation. For simplicities sake I am going to call my file book.jpg and render out a .jpg sequence. You could render out a .mov or a .avi or whatever, but I recommend using a sequence because if your computer "bombs out"/crashes at say, frame 40, you don't have to restart the render from the beginning. You can just start the animation from frame 40 and render till the end. Also, it's better for network rendering(should you want to) and post editing in Adobe After Effects/Combustion/Shake etc.

(Toolbar>Rendering>Render>Common>Render Output >Save File)



Step 11

Change the Irradiance map mode to Animation (rendering) and load the Irradiance maps that you rendered out earlier. (Toolbar>Rendering>Render>Indirect illumination> V-Ray::Irradiance map >Mode> Animation (rendering))
The map you must load is the first one in the sequence



Step 12


Change the secondary GI engine to None (You don't need it because the GI has already been calculated in the previous render) (Toolbar>Rendering>Render>Indirect illumination> V-Ray::Indirect Illumination (GI)>Secondary bounces, GI engine dropdown: None)



Step 13


Click Render, take another break.

Step 14

Congratulations - you've completed the tutorial and rendered moving objects with V-Ray! Let's check our animation in the 3ds Max RAM player to see how it looks:





Thursday, January 8, 2009

Free advanced procedural maps for 3ds max


BerconMaps 1.2

Some Finnish guy Jerry Ylilammi has created a procedural maps plug-in for 3ds Max. You can get it at his site, along with some other cool things. :http://www.niksula.cs.hut.fi/~jylilamm/tools.shtml
If you find the plugins useful, Why not give him props and donate some cash into his paypal account



by the way, did you know that the word props comes from a song: Props, short for Propers: the entire word "propers" is used in the song "Respect", written by Otis Redding and most famously recorded by Aretha Franklin in 1967. ("all I'm askin' in return honey is to give me my propers when I get home") from http://www.urbandictionary.com

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Free 3d car models

Chrysler is giving away some 3d car models here
The cars available are:
CHRYSLER: 2008 Sebring Convertible Limited
JEEP: 2007 Wrangler Rubicon 4x4 two-door
DODGE: 2008 Viper Coupe SRT10

Each data set includes 3D geometry, reference materials (photos, charts, graphics, etc.) HDRI domes, and photographic backplates for each vehicle, sheesh!
Very cool of them to give this stuff away! Be warned though, it's a lot of data, like a couple of Gigabytes worth! Also, most of the meshes are in Maya format, so you will need to convert them in something like Okino PolyTrans if you want to use them in Max.

here is a screenshot of one of the cars - i'll post up a render when I have time...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

High quality 3d model site




There is a new resource for 3D furniture models on the web, it's called design connected. They are partners with chaosgroup (the makers of the V-Ray renderer), so you know these models are going to work well with V-Ray. The models are fully textured and are available in the following formats: sketchup, Autodesk 3ds max, obj, fbz and Abvent Artlantis. There is also a native file format, that works with their free download manager software, which enables you to drag and drop render-ready objects straight into your max scene - pretty sweet! To get the products though, you first have to load up your account with credits, it's a kind of pay-as-you-go system. the models seem to be of an extremely high quality (Currently offering 1603 models from 301 manufacturers and 557 designers), and they are organised according products/manufacturerer/designers/themes. They even have links to the official manufacturers of the real-life products. All in all the service looks very professional, very useful for those of us in the Arch-viz industry and I can't wait to try it out - unfortunately there seems to be no free test products at this stage :p

A design classic from the 50's, the beautiful Swan chair by Arne Jacobsen

Another beauty from the 50's, the Eames RAR rocking chair -something I've always wanted (the real version, and it will set you back something like £200-£300.00, luckily the 3D computer model is much cheaper!)

They also have new, contemporary stuff, I just like the old classics :)

Monday, January 5, 2009

V-Ray help


If you've ever wondered where the V-Ray help files are, you can find them here: http://www.spot3d.com/vray/help/150SP1/
They are pretty darn thorough and include some useful tutorials.

3D models